I was fortunate to experience Second Wind's half day charter last year and this year I was on their full day charter. I'm not sure how Aqua Marine did it but they seem to have gotten even better!
Yes this review is long, but the read will make your STT trip unforgettable. Transportation is included in the trip, Courtney picked us up at our resort and drove us to Saga Harbor, near Food Center. Upon arrival you'll be impressed, this isn't a boat, Second Wind is a yacht. There are several open levels, a galley, bathroom with shower and two bedrooms. As we boarded we were met with colorful mimosas which were red in the bottom of the clear glass and orange at the center/top garnished with a fresh orange slice. Our request for plain orange juice was quickly filled and were served in the same pretty manner, just a glimpse of what was yet to come. Of the six guests, this was the fourth year in a row that two of them had taken this same trip. That loyalty says a lot. The six of us sat around a table on the back of the boat, under a canopy, in wonderfully cushy upholstered wicker full-size patio furniture. Each seat was set with real plates and utensils. Breakfast covered the entire table, croissants, muffins, danish, warm cinnamon rolls with icing, coffee cake, toasted canopy bread with cream cheese/salmon/onion/capers, assortment of fresh fruit including strawberries...it's a treat to be served strawberries in STT.
While we enjoyed breakfast Wolfgang explained the safety features of the yacht, he delivered this speech along with jokes. Wolfgang suggested three different itineraries to us and then left us to discuss our options among ourselves. The routing of your trip is based on what the passengers what to do/see. We agreed to Wolfgang's "calm water" itinerary. The crew was introduced, Brittany, a dive instructor, was our guide and Natalie our chef, who prepares the food fresh onboard. The ratio is 3 crew to maximum of 6 passengers.
Drinks were refilled and we were invited to go up to the Captain's deck which has cushioned seating for 4-6. I prefer the next deck up with 3 full-size cushioned patio chairs and what I think is the best view. There was yet one more deck above that looked like it was utilized for sport fishing with cushioned bench seats and a second set of Captain controls. Ropes were removed from the dock and we were off.
As we motored out of Saga Harbor and into the Caribbean Sea, Wolfgang told stories of interest and local lore, like the Dolphin House. He told us about Little St. James Island and we learned about the construction on the island and the quirks of the owner Jeffrey Epstein, I won't spoil it by sharing the details. Wolfgang is very entertaining and charming. We navigated towards Buck Island which was our first snorkel stop. The yacht has a large open deck in the rear for fitting your gear and a wide wooden platform to access the ladder, which is wrapped with small diameter rope for great foot traction. A pet peeve of mine is a slippery bare metal ladder. Brittany was very helpful and patient with one of the passengers who was a bit hesitant about snorkeling. At this stop we saw several sea turtles and a few of our group were able to touch them! There was also an area of live coral with many fish, I spotted a squid and a ray.
We boarded and had a snack of fresh veggies, humus and pita...and of course drink refills. Then off to our second stop. When we arrived Wolfgang tossed a bowl of shrimp shells overboard and thousands, yes thousands of fish scrambled for them. We then all took part in serving our breakfast leftovers to the fish. I quickly entered the water to experience this feeding with the fish, it was so much fun. First I snorkeled along the reef then joined the others over a shipwreck.
When we boarded again it was time for lunch. The table had been re-set for us with a Greek salad, warm cheesy bread, hot spring rolls, mini quiches and coconut shrimp...all of this was just the starters. We were then served a huge bowl of ziti in a cream sauce with spinach, garlic and tons of shrimp. Followed by desert and coffee. Drinks were served throughout the day, they have a full bar and delicious fresh fruit smoothies.
After lunch as we all had our hands placed on our over-satisfied bellies, we made our way to Christmas Cove. Here I again snorkeled along the reef, taking Wolfgang's advise to go towards the right. It was great with coral and many different species of fish. I saw a sea cucumber, moray eel, a spotted ray, lots of conch and tons of fish.
When I got back into the boat it was time for dinner which started with a shrimp caesar salad and brushetta. The main course was a very tasty coconut rice with craisins and lime/orange zest served with skewers of pineapple and chicken. A choice of three different desserts followed. After dinner drinks and coffee are offered. I was too stuffed for anything else.
More stories and laughs as we took in the beauty of the islands on our return to the marina, stopping for a bit of birdwatching in the mangroves. Ana met us on the dock and brought us back to our resort. I honestly can't think of anything that they could have done differently or added to the day to make it any better, which says a lot coming from me! Aqua Marine's crew is kind, friendly and gracious. We were treated like royalty, just as I hear from anyone else whose ever gone on Second Wind. You might say to yourself "but I can go on a different boat trip for half the price" that is true but there is absolutely no comparison in friendly service, surroundings, the level of quality and the experience you will have. The trip was perfect...and I'm not easy to WOW!